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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2000 Sep;76(3):235-44.

Determination of trace elements in some natural drugs by atomic absorption spectrometry.

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Graduate Institute of Medicine and School of Technology for Medical Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Fifteen kinds of common plants, animals, and minerals used as traditional medicines by the Chinese people have been subjected to analysis by atomic absorption spectrometry for its content of seven metals: lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, copper, cobalt, and manganese. The concentrations of these elements are significantly different according to their vegetal, animal, or mineral origin. The average values found for lead, cadmium, arsenic, cobalt, and manganese in drugs of mineral origin are higher than those derived from plants and animals, except for copper, which was higher in drugs of animal origin. Our results suggest that the user of traditional Chinese crude drugs should be warned of the potential danger of heavy-metal poisoning because their concentrations seem to be higher than the maximum values allowed by health agencies in several countries.

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